Connie Zhou, ‘20: Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Internship

Summer 2019

About the Project

This summer, I was supported by the Benenson Award as I worked as an intern at Dance for Parkinson’s Disease in Brooklyn, a non-profit dedicated to providing free dance classes to those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. Through this experience, I further explored illness from a community perspective. As an administrator, I developed management and communication skills by sending weekly newsletters, processing class registrations, and managing databases. I also initiated and created a more efficient system to compute and analyze attendance data for grant reporting. By exploring the unique characteristics of this population, I was able to implement solutions to address barriers to access ranging from accounting for Internet illiteracy with phone calls and printouts to a researching ways to increase access to classes.

My administrative duties also include supporting the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group and connecting various support systems with the local Parkinson’s community. This partnership has given me insight into the experience of Parkinson’s outside of the clinic. In addition to prior shadowing at the VA and teaching dance to underserved children with obesity, working with many older adults on Medicaid has shown me the diverse impacts of socioeconomic and environmental factors on health. These organizations inspire my commitment to advocacy and addressing health inequities by demonstrating that I can help people overcome these obstacles by creating adequate support systems.

About the Artist

Connie Zhou is a senior from Pleasanton, California majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology and Dance. She is planning to graduate with Distinction outside the major in Dance. For as long as she can remember she has been passionate about pursuing in medicine and dance. She has delved into science as a pre-medical student with immunology laboratory experience. As a dancer, she has trained from 4 and a half years old in a variety of styles. Whenever possible, she tries to combine these two passions. As the co-president of Dance Expressions and through interning with Dance for Parkinson’s Disease, she is able to do just that. On campus, Connie is also a student-athlete tutor, the VP of Collaboration for duARTS, and MEVP of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. She is focused on championing access to dance for those, who due to a variety of factors, who would otherwise be unable to have access to training.